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Fairphone's Eco Phone Is Joined by Recycled Headphones

The Fairbuds XL headphones use recycled materials and can be easily fixed at home.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Expertise Smartphones, Photography, iOS, Android, gaming, outdoor pursuits Credentials
  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
2 min read

The Fairbuds XL headphones and Fairphone 4.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The Fairbuds XL are a set of over-ear headphones, designed with sustainability in mind. Made using recycled plastics and aluminum, vegan leather and Fairtrade gold, the headphones are also modular, allowing you to replace parts that could wear over time, extending the lifespan and resulting in a lower carbon footprint as a result. 

They're on sale today in Europe for 249 euros (£217, $273), directly from Fairphone's website. Fairphone doesn't currently officially sell its products in the US, but whether the Fairbuds XL become available via Amazon remains to be seen. 

The headphones are the first audio product launched by Fairphone, and they stay true to the company's sustainable mission. Billing itself as a "social enterprise," Fairphone has previously launched a range of Android smartphones, most recently the Fairphone 4. Featuring a 6.3-inch display, a dual 48-megapixel rear camera and 5G connectivity, the Fairphone 4 has plenty of features you'd expect from any current Android phones. But as with the headphones, the focus remains on sustainability. 

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The phone includes recycled materials, Fairtrade gold and replaceable components. Fairphone also states that workers throughout its manufacturing process are treated and paid fairly, while the company makes investments in carbon reduction projects. It's certainly an admirable mission, and Fairphone is hoping that its efforts will encourage larger manufacturers to take bigger steps to make their own products as environmentally friendly as possible. 

So what about the headphones? Well they're over-ear in design and feature deeply padded earcups that are comfortable to wear for longer periods. They're wireless headphones with solid sound quality featuring punchy bass and clear highs, as well as decent though not outstanding noise canceling.

I like the Fairbuds XL design, especially with the speckled green coloring on the model I tested. They stand out from their competitors and have quite a fun aesthetic that I don't mind wearing around town. The earcups fold inward for easier storing, and they're IP54 rated for water resistance, making them safe to keep wearing during a rain shower, but don't let them drop underwater. 

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Battery life is rated at around 30 hours (without noise canceling, which drains the battery faster), and I'd say that estimate is about accurate, based on my own testing. If the juice does run out, you can continue listening by plugging them into your phone with a USB-C cable. 

The Fairbuds XL are not the highest performance or most luxurious headphones around. Nor is the Fairphone 4 the most premium phone. But they're not supposed to be, instead aimed at offering generally solid performance with as little environmental impact as possible, and that's something I can absolutely get behind.